October 30, 2013 3:41 pm

Empire shrinks as Eike Batista sells assets

What self-respecting billionaire would not have his own private jet?

Brazil’s Eike Batista was no exception – in his heyday, his company EBX sported an Embraer Legacy 600 13-passenger business jet complete with a meeting room where the tycoon could continue his frenetic dealmaking even while airborne.

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Now that he is no longer a billionaire, however, having been jettisoned from the Forbes super rich list in September, the private jet has joined a dizzying array of toys and more serious assets he is selling or dumping to avoid insolvency.

Among his follies was the Pink Fleet, a ship he used to entertain guests in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay that cost R$300,000 a month to maintain, according to Brazilian magazine Veja. No one wanted to buy it so it was sent for scrap.

Then there was his ambitious project to revamp the Hotel Glória in Rio, partly funded by Brazil’s development bank. The art deco hotel, said to have been Brazil’s first five-star facility when it was built in 1922, was sold to Swiss company Acron for R$225m.

Among his more serious companies, the tycoon has already sold control of his energy company, MPX to Germany’s Eon, which has renamed the group Eneva. His miner MMX agreed in August to sell all of its Chilean assets to Inversiones Cooper Mining.

LLX, his logistics company that was building the Açu Superport, designed as a base to serve Brazil’s giant offshore “pre-salt” oil discoveries, was sold in August to US-based investment firm EIG Global Energy Partners for R$1.3bn.

In October, MMX also agreed to sell a 65 per cent stake in Porto Sudeste, its prized iron ore port under construction, to commodity trader Trafigura and Abu Dhabi’s investment fund Mubadala Development Company for $400m.

This week, his coal unit, CCX Carvao da Colombia SA, agreed to sell its coal projects in Colombia to Turkey’s Yildirim Holding for about $450m.

With the departure of each subsidiary, Mr Batista’s iconic base in the centre of Rio, the Serrador building, only 500 metres from the headquarters of the country’s most important companies, Petrobras, development bank BNDES and miner Vale, becomes emptier.

Newspaper Valor Econômico reported that Mr Batista is planning to leave the building but faces a hefty fine for terminating the lease early.

It is a humbling turn of events for someone who wanted to be the world’s richest man. On the website Controller, where he has put his jet up for sale, the aircraft is pictured taking off for other climes against the stunning backdrop of Rio’s mountains.

Perhaps Mr Batista, who is half German by birth, will do the same. After all, he has sought his fortunes outside of Brazil in earlier incarnations.

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